Published: Wed, November 15, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Three-Carrier Strike Force Conducts Exercise in Western Pacific

Three-Carrier Strike Force Conducts Exercise in Western Pacific

USS NIMITZ, Sea of Japan - The Navy put its airpower on display as a rare three-aircraft carrier exercise entered its final stretch Monday in waters east of the Korean Peninsula.

The drill is the first in a decade in the region involving a three-carrier strike force. "Multiple carrier strike force operations are very complex, and this exercise in the Western Pacific is a strong testament to the US Pacific Fleet's unique ability and ironclad commitment to the continued security and stability of the region".

Military officials say North Korea maintained its routine military activities during the joint drills.

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Pyongyang also accused the United States and its allies, including Japan, of trying to "escalate the military tension and increase arms race in the region with each passing day".

"I think the opportunity that three aircraft carriers in this region operating together and training together sends a powerful message", Rear Adm. Gregory Harris, commander of the Carrier Strike Group 11 in which the USS Nimitz belongs, told The Asahi Shimbun.

Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force held a joint exercise with the USA strike groups on November 12. The MSDF said it is "using every opportunity" to strengthen ties between the two navies, the Japan Times reports.

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Ships from Japan and South Korea joined the exercise, officials said.

"The exercise is aimed at enhancing deterrence against North Korea's nuclear and missile threats and showing off preparedness to fend off any provocative acts by the North", a South Korean defence ministry spokesman said.

Each US aircraft carrier holds more than 60 aircraft, including F/A-18 fighter jets, airborne early warning and control aircraft and helicopters for anti-submarine warfare. United States attack submarines typically accompany USA aircraft carrier strike groups, but the Navy usually keeps their specific locations secret. It was the first time three USA aircraft carrier strike groups have been assembled in the Sea of Japan since North Korea's nuclear and missile program surfaced in the 1990s.

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